Spike in tourism fees surprises small businesses in Belmar

Small business owners in Belmar said they were caught off guard after receiving notice from Belmar officials that the town’s tourism fee had been increased from $100 to $1,000.

“A tourist fee in a small community that doesn’t really affect our income during the summer affects us in our pockets,” says Christine Seaman, of Belmar Flower Alley.

Rasheed Simmons, owner of restaurant Simply Southern, says the raise is the last thing he needs as he struggles to stay afloat during the pandemic.

“It’s hard for these small businesses to survive, especially in the low season here in a seaside town,” says Simply Southern restaurant owner Rasheed Simmons.

Belmar Mayor Mark Walsifer said: “Belmar has changed the way tourist fees for businesses are determined while Special Improvement District (SID) assessments have been removed. The tourist fee did not take into account the size of the business, the type of business, whether it was dependent on tourism or whether it was a professional office or similar. It’s expensive to hold special events such as Seafood Festival, San Gennaro Party, Friday Night Concerts at Pyanoe Plaza, Taylor Pavilion Concerts, Movies on the Beach, to name a few. only a few. For the companies that benefit, it is worth the cost of their tourism expenses.

Simmons ended up calling the city and got his fee reduced.

“Any restaurant that doesn’t serve alcohol will cost $500, which is still expensive. A restaurant that serves alcohol will cost $1,000,” says Simmons.

Seaman says she will also try to reduce her fees, but is currently too busy with Valentine’s Day sales.

About Bobby F. Lopez

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